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Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Dr Caitlin Nunn

Nunn, C., McMichael, C., Gifford, S.M. & Correa-Velez, I. (2016). Mobility and security: the perceived benefits of citizenship for resettled young people from refugee backgrounds. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(3): 382-399.

Author(s) from Durham


In recent decades, the meaning and value of formal state citizenship has shifted dramatically. In the same period, scholarship on citizenship has drawn attention to the proliferation of alternative forms of sub-, supra- and transnational citizenship, at times obscuring the ongoing importance of formal state citizenship. For refugees, however, formal state citizenship remains a critical and widely shared goal. Drawing on interviews with 51 young people from refugee backgrounds in Melbourne, Australia, this article explores the intersecting themes of mobility and security that were identified by participants as the most important benefits of acquiring formal state citizenship in the country of resettlement. In contrast to the insecurity of forced migration, formal state citizenship provides a privileged mobility that enables refugee-background youth to maintain and create transnational identities and attachments and to be protected while doing so, while also granting a secure status within the nation state and insurance against further displacement in an uncertain future. In offering these forms of mobility and security, formal state citizenship contributes to a sense of ontological security among refugee-background youth, providing an important foundation for building national and transnational futures.